Verbs are an important part of English grammar. They are usually used to show an action performed by someone or something. However, that is not the only function that verbs carry. Verbs are of different types, and each has distinct characteristics that perform variant functions.
One of the types that we will discuss today is called phrasal verbs. While all verbs have somewhat similar usage, these are a little bit tricky. They are not single words used with the subject. Instead, they are phrases. They are a combination of two or three words that describes an action or state of being.
Let us discuss some examples to learn better.
What are Phrasal verbs?
Phrasal verbs are the type of verbs that are made up together with two or more particles or prepositions. They are not single words describing an action. Instead, they are a combination of the main verb alongside an adverb or preposition.
So, they are phrases and not just a single word. They are formed with two or three particles that give a complete meaning. These words individually would not have any meaning or sense whatsoever.
These are very common in English grammar. And usually, this type of verbs is used in informal contexts.
Let us understand with some examples.
- I called off the party because of exams.
- The high school boys always looked down on the juniors.
- The loud music put me off.
- I had to spell out everything.
- They asked me to see to the animals.
These are some phrasal verbs examples. We see they are a combination of the main verb with added particles that help bring out a different meaning.
What is a particle?
When certain adverbs like “away” and “forward” or prepositions are combined with verbs in such a way that they are no longer used as prepositions or ordinary adverbs. They are called particles.
Types of phrasal verbs
We learned the meaning of phrasal verbs. Now, phrasal verbs can be mainly of two types – Transitive phrasal verbs and Intransitive phrasal verbs.
Intransitive phrasal verbs are used without taking on any direct object. They do not address the object in the sentence.
- We set off late because of practice.
- We broke up soon after the third month.
In transitive phrasal verbs, there is a direct object present. The object that is being acted upon, is present in the sentence. In short, they take direct objects in a sentence.
- Whenever they set off the alarm, we panic.
- We called the teachers to break up the fight between the juniors and seniors.
Separable and Non-separable phrasal verbs
Since phrasal verbs are made of two or more particles, some phrases are separable, while some are not.
Separable verbs are those where the verb and the particles can be set apart from one another in a sentence. These are usually transitive verbs. And generally, when there is a pronoun, they are separated.
- I was waiting for the meeting, but they called it off.
Non-separable verbs are those where the verb and the particles cannot be separated. It is mostly the case with intransitive verbs.
- He looked after my son. (Correct)
- He looked my son after. (Wrong)
Thus, we see phrasal verbs are different from others. They are not very complicated, but it is important to know when and how to use them.